Written by R.R. Reno |
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Today we are subjected to tremendous pressure to endorse transgender ideology, and we are cattle-prodded to affirm gay marriage. Some resist, because they are rooted in reality and recognize that men are men and women are women. But if we look around the public square, we see that the majority of those standing up against woke tyranny are religious believers. We do this not because basic facts about biology and the male-female difference require the affirmation of revealed truths. Our ability to speak out rests in our freedom, which…comes from our knowledge that we are under the command of a King far stronger than any worldly power.
On March 20, the United States organized a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the following topic: “Integrating the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons into the Council’s Mandate for Maintaining International Peace and Security.” This effort is but another step in the American-led push to compel the entire world to adopt our progressive social agenda. In April 2022, the Biden administration produced an Interagency Report on the ways in which all aspects of our government will advance gay rights around the world. These government measures dovetail with a vast network of academic programs, conferences, and legal clinics, and with foundation-funded activist organizations operating at every level. Were someone to tally the direct and indirect expenditures on gay rights and related causes, I would be surprised if they didn’t reach $1 trillion per year.
The ambition is simple: to strengthen the Rainbow Reich and ensure that it attains global hegemony. From Brussels to Washington, this goal is pursued by every major institution in the West, including, it seems, the Catholic Church in Germany. Often the Rainbow Reich is disguised by calls for the defense of liberal democracy. Of course, without exception, no country counts as “liberal” that does not wholeheartedly endorse the latest progressive dogmas. In effect, as the hegemon in Western initiatives and alliances, the United States leads an ideological crusade to conquer the world.
This turn of events paradoxically reverses the roles played by the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In 1950, under the leadership of Secretary of State Dean Acheson, the recently formed National Security Council was commissioned to assess the Soviet threat and outline an American response. The upshot was NSC-68, the document that guided U.S. strategy during the Cold War.
In his memoir, Present at the Creation, Acheson summarizes the main thrust of NSC-68. The document characterized the essential difference between Soviet and American ambitions: “The priority given by the Soviet rulers to the Kremlin design, world domination, contrasted with the American aim, an environment in which free societies could exist and flourish.” Acheson refines this contrast further. Russia adopted this imperial principle: “No state is friendly which is not subservient.” The U.S. adhered to a capacious approach: “No state is unfriendly which, in return for its rights, respects the rights of other states.” Put simply, the Soviet Union wished to globalize its communist regime. By contrast, the United States wanted to protect its own way of life, and we were willing to ally ourselves with other countries organized in accord with quite different principles, provided each respected the right of others to live in peace.
In the twenty-first century, we seem to have adopted the Soviet imperial principle. After September 11, a consensus formed concerning the need to convert the entire world to the American system. In his Second Inaugural Address, George W. Bush insisted, “We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.” He was not calling for a global Rainbow Reich, but he established a precedent. The judgment that the American culture of freedom could not survive unless the entire world adopted our conception of liberty (now perverted to entail a right to abort children, marry someone of the same sex, and choose whether to be a man or a woman) is not altogether different from the Soviet ambition of world domination.
Marxist true believers held that communism would inevitably triumph. It’s a sentiment echoed by countless progressives who condemn those deemed “on the wrong side of history.” But the triumph remains in the future. The cause remains vulnerable. Back in the day, the Bolsheviks believed that the survival of communism at home required the success of communism abroad. And they held that the best hope for world peace depended upon the expansion of communism to the entire world. American progressives aim for a different future, but adhere to similar imperialist assumptions. Although coercive, the totalitarianism of the Rainbow Reich proceeds under the sign of choice, as the ideology of abortion makes plain. The Biden administration’s commitment to ensure gay rights everywhere dovetails all too easily with the call for “the expansion of freedom in all the world.”
Seeking greater precision, in his commentary on NSC-68 Acheson once again formulates the contrast between the Soviet Union and the United States. In the early days of the Cold War, “our society felt no compulsion to bring all societies into conformity with it, [whereas] the Kremlin hierarchy was not content to entrench its regime but wished to expand its control directly and indirectly over other people within its reach.” I fear that few in power today would affirm Acheson’s statement about America. In the economic sphere, the “Washington consensus” seeks universal adoption. How can we have a truly free global market unless everyone accepts free-market principles? A mercantilist or protectionist nation spoils the system. In politics, all nations must become liberal democracies. A vast array of human rights that encode progressive ideology into their meaning is obligatory, and our embassies fly the rainbow flag. We now play the Kremlin’s role.
Meanwhile, America’s greatest geopolitical adversary has adopted our older and more pragmatic outlook. China feels no compulsion to transform Iran, India, or Indonesia in its own image. Chairman Xi seems satisfied to fold other nations into a Chinese-dominated economic system and enjoy alliances of convenience against American hegemony.
Count me anxious. When the Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of its ideological ambitions, Mikhail Gorbachev famously said, “You will miss us a lot.” I can’t say that I have. But looking back, I find that the Kremlin played a role something like that of the biblical concept of katechon, the power that restrains and withholds. After communism’s demise, American elites were free to indulge in “end of history” fantasies, and the mythical aspect of our country (Novus ordo seclorum—a new order of the ages) became an ideological burden. I fear that unless we regain a habit of restraint, we will collapse under the weight of the Rainbow Reich.
We do not live in a free country. There are many kinds of tyranny. Ours is certainly not like that of Nazi Germany or Communist Russia. Government agents are not knocking on doors in the dead of night. Dissenters are not being arrested and sent to prison camps. Nor is twenty-first-century America quite what Alexis de Tocqueville feared, a society of isolated and timid individuals who welcome the smothering embrace of sovereign power that “covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated, minute, and uniform rules, which the most original minds and most vigorous souls cannot break through to go beyond the crowds.” It is true that we are atomized and live under a blanket of social control. But the “sovereign power” is not officialdom pure and simple. It is something more diffuse. Like our healthcare system and retirement benefits, the tyranny is distinctly American, imposed by a complex combination of government power and private initiative.
Imagine a lawyer, a devout Christian with traditional moral convictions, who works in a large national firm in New York. In years past, he was required to participate in diversity training seminars. These sessions were not mandated by any government agency. Rather, they were established by management in order to protect the firm in the event of civil rights litigation. He participated and held his tongue when the “training” turned to abortion and gay rights.